Some businesses believe that installing antivirus software and utilizing their firewall are enough to prevent cyberattacks. But these are no longer sufficient, given the rise of more dangerous threats to business data.
Statistics show that while 43% of cyberattacks in the United States are directed at small businesses, only 14% of these companies are properly equipped to defend themselves. This is likely due to a lack of funding or awareness of cybersecurity solutions. One way small businesses can bolster their cybersecurity measures is by utilizing AI.
What is AI?
AI, or artificial intelligence, is the ability of a computer system to imitate human processes and experiences, and adapt to new information through machine learning. Cybersecurity researchers are using this technology to identify and obstruct sophisticated attacks with minimal intervention.
How can AI help in cybersecurity?
There are a number of ways that AI can improve businesses’ cybersecurity measures:
#1. Automated cyberthreat identification
AI can be used to detect new cyberthreats by analysing logs from various sources. It can also analyse current malware trends to predict future attacks. This way, threats can be detected early to prevent them from damaging systems on a large scale.
For instance, modern antivirus software automatically collects data from its user base to train its security systems. Once a malware sample is detected, the software’s security database is immediately updated. What’s more, AI can tell malicious and legitimate data apart, so the antivirus doesn’t need to scan every single file in a system.
AI can also be used for identity authentication in your IT infrastructure. Risk-based authentication (RBA), for example, analyses users’ normal behavior for an extended period. If it detects anything suspicious, such as a login attempt at an unusual time or location, it would deny access or require the user to fulfill another authentication step.
#2. User behavior analysis
If a hacker successfully infiltrates your system, AI can be used to protect your infrastructure. User and Entity Behavior Analysis (UEBA) sets baselines of normal and abnormal user behavior, so the system knows the typical behavior of a certain user. Once the hacker shows unusual behavior, such as downloading large amounts of data or logging in to new applications, their access will immediately be revoked.
UEBA detects insider threats, compromised accounts, permission changes, and data breaches without the need to monitor your system manually.
#3. Detection of rogue websites
AI is helping users stay safe online by quickly detecting malicious websites. Cybercriminals are constantly creating malicious websites that resemble the legitimate sites of banks, government agencies, and other businesses for their phishing schemes. Since many people still fall for such attacks, it remains an effective method of data theft.
AI can analyse the behavior of rogue websites and reduce the time it takes to identify suspicious activities. For instance, Google is using AI to blacklist more than 10,000 websites per day. This is really helpful if one of your employees accidentally falls for a phishing scam — AI blocks access to a malicious website and, consequently, prevents your employee from divulging confidential information.
Aren’t cybercriminals using AI as well?
Cybercriminals are also taking advantage of AI, but with the goal of finding system vulnerabilities in businesses’ IT infrastructures. For instance, many hackers know that the employees are the weakest link in a business, so they use AI to identify the best targets. These include those who have the most access privileges and those who can easily be exploited.
At the same time, cybercriminals are using AI to improve their social engineering techniques. Before, phishing emails could be easily identified because of grammatical errors in them. But now, hackers can generate messages that look legitimate by imitating the writing style of a certain person or organisation.
To protect your business from these threats, you should improve your staff’s security awareness levels. Encourage your employees to create strong passwords and turn on multifactor authentication (MFA) so cybercriminals cannot infiltrate their account. Teach them to refrain from clicking links and downloading attachments from unknown emails. Lastly, ensure that only authorised users can access certain information and applications to help stem the tide of cyberattacks.
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